Years from now, we may look back on September 26, 2010 as the day of our official welcome to the village, the public acceptance of us as Daglanaises. The venue was the village’s salle des fetes, and the event was a special lunch sponsored by the Club de l’Amitié Daglanaise (or Daglan Friendship Club).
Given the size of the crowd, the food was well prepared and served piping hot: the courses included nibblies with a champagne punch; soup; filets of fish wrapped with julienned vegetables and phyllo pastry; stuffed chicken thighs with vegetables and creamy potatoes; goat cheese with salad; and cake for dessert. Not to mention countless bottles of red and white Bergerac wines.
We had driven to the lunch, even though the salle des fetes is only a five- or 10-minute walk from our house, because we had offered to drive two of our elderly neighbours, one of whom walks with a cane. Virtually all of the conversation in the room was in French, of course, and many of our neighbours, as well as officials of the Club, stopped by our table to chat. And just before the food began to be served, the Club’s treasurer brought a Scottish couple to our table, knowing that we would be more comfortable speaking English for such a long meal. (Amazingly, the whole event went on for four hours!) Here’s how one of the two long tables looked, once we were well along in the lunch:
At the conclusion of the meal, we were delighted to be singled out for a special welcome — Monsieur et Madame Chudy — and as we left the room (with the two neighbours we were driving home) one lovely couple started serenading us with Mon Pays, the great Quebec poem that has become something of an anthem.
The whole event was warm, welcoming and charming. But on top of that we had quite a different sort of surprise. For years, we had told the story of how we bought our house in Daglan in the fall of 2004, and had returned that Christmas to take possession of the house and begin to furnish it. On Christmas night, 2004, we made our way to a restaurant (now with a different name and different ownership) at the edge of the village, were shown upstairs, and wound up being served by a very grumpy waitress who almost tossed our plates onto our table. (We later learned that the waitress was married to the owner, and they were in the midst of a messy divorce.) In our story, we always mentioned that there was only one other couple in the whole restaurant.
So today, as we chatted with the Scottish couple at our table, we asked how they came to discover Daglan, and we shared our own experiences at discovering the village. And when we reached the part about our first Christmas dinner in Daglan, we discovered — can you guess what’s coming? — that they were the other couple in the restaurant, nearly six years ago. And we’re already looking forward to spending more time with Letitia and Roy, of Le Peyruzel, the hamlet on the hill above Daglan which my wife often visits on her morning walks.